Easy Energy Conservation Tips for Winter

Winter is just around the corner! In Florida’ where MaintenX is headquartered, this means big energy savings for most businesses. However, our locations further north can expect more expensive heating costs as the snow starts to fall and chilly days become more and more frequent. If you struggle with higher energy costs in the winter, here are a few ways your facility can save:

 

Keep the blinds open

On sunny winter days, you can naturally heat your office space by opening the blinds and curtains as much as possible. This is more helpful for smaller offices and businesses where plenty of windows are built-in, but even larger facilities can benefit from individual offices using sunlight as a heat source. 

 

Seal doors and windows

Drafty air comes in from doors and windows every time they’re opened, but did you realize that small cracks under doors and windows equally contribute to colder air inside your facility. You may not feel the rush of a cool breeze, but the slow leaking of heated air out of your facility can make it more difficult for your HVAC system to properly regulate the temperature. Call your MaintenX team to install rubber seals around doors and windows to ensure your heater doesn’t have to work so hard. 

 

Use LED lights 

LED lights are the most energy-efficient lighting option available. While it’s wise to use them year-round it is especially important during the winter as the days get shorter. Plus, if your office or business plans to decorate for the holidays, you don’t want to add excess expenses by using high-energy lighting for your decor. 

 

Close vents in storage closets and unused spaces. 

Do you have a storage shed, vacant office, or other room in your facility that doesn’t need to be heated 24/7? If so, reduce your energy usage simply by closing the vents to that area. This will redirect heated air to the areas where it is most needed and is simple to reverse. 

 

Install a smart thermostat. 

Your office doesn’t need to be heated optimally while it’s closed or in certain areas that aren’t used daily. Save on heating bills by using a programmable thermostat that will adjust temperatures as needed. You can program your thermostat to start warming an hour before opening or can adjust temperatures based on different “zones” in your facility with greater use. 

 

With these simple tips, you can save 10% or more on your winter energy bills. For more cost-saving maintenance tips and ideas, visit our Resource Center

Five Ways Your Facility Is Wasting Water

Water waste in commercial programs is a big deal. Not only are you wasting your own money, but your facility is unnecessarily contributing to environmental damage due to wastewater and overconsumption of energy. While some wastewater is difficult to avoid, other sources can be easily eliminated with a few maintenance upgrades to your system. 

 

If you want to improve the water efficiency of your facility, look into these # contributors of waste:

 

You aren’t addressing leaky pipes

Pipes that are leaking are the definition of water waste. This may not seem like a big contributor, but you could be wasting several gallons of water each week by not fixing your leaky pipes. 

 

You haven’t invested in low-flow faucets and other smart appliances

Conventional toilets, faucets, dishwashers, and other appliances often use way more water than is necessary for the 21st century. By installing low-flow appliances and energy-efficient systems, you can dramatically decrease both energy and water usage within your facility. 

 

Your employees are overusing water

Do your employees leave the sink running while washing out dishes and coffee cups from the office kitchen? Do they use the onsite shower daily, or flush things that should be thrown away? While you don’t want to be a stickler for water usage, it’s important to add gentle reminders not to waste water as part of your company’s environmental mission. 

 

Your commercial kitchen is running the dishwasher too often

Do you always run the dishwasher when there’s a full load? Or do you run it whenever you have time? By underfilling your dishwasher you’re wasting water that is adding up at the end of the month. 

 

You’re overwatering your landscaping

Commercial landscaping is important for maintaining the appearance of your facility as a whole, but you can go overboard by running your sprinklers all day instead of only when it’s needed. Be sure to turn off sprinklers when rain is expected, and only run them once a day to preserve water usage. 

Minor adjustments over time can lead to great savings for your company and your local environment. To learn more about other simple-to-do environmental programs for your facility, visit the MaintenX resource center.

Back To Basics: What You Really Need To Make A Facility Maintenance Plan Work

At MaintenX, we regularly emphasize the importance of a preventative maintenance plan. As the facility manager, developing a preventative care program is the most important thing you can do for the long-term health and productivity of your building. While there are plenty of tools, technologies, and strategies you can use to achieve high performance in the maintenance department, there are only five things you really need to make your program work. 

 

Proper training  

Training with your maintenance team is the best way to improve efficiency and ensure that work gets done right the first time. While every maintenance worker we hire at MaintenX has had ample education and work experience, we invest in additional training to ensure that the quality of service is equal across the board, no matter what subcontractor comes to your door. It is through this investment in training that we are able to perform exceptionally from curb to roof and coast to coast. 

 

Qualified staff

In addition to training, MaintenX carefully selects top qualified electricians, plumbers, roofers, and HVAC repairmen. The caliber of your maintenance team is the single most important contributor to facility maintenance improvement across time. However, it’s not just about technical ability. A maintenance team that is invested in their work and diligent in the task at hand are the teams that can make real change at your facility. 

 

Communication between management and maintenance

MaintenX has invested in a state-of-the-art work-order management system in order to organize and facilitate communication between maintenance crews and our clients. This work-order management system along with our high-level customer service ensures that communication flows seamlessly and problems are addressed before they become emergencies. 

 

A consistent schedule

Preventative maintenance is synonymous with consistent maintenance. If your preventative care program lacks routine and accountability, then it is not effective in producing cost-saving measures or in reducing emergency maintenance necessities. Create a preventative maintenance schedule based on the manufacturer’s recommendations and then stick to it. Your building will thank you for it!

 

Budget that meets needs not numbers

It’s easy for management to cut the maintenance budget over more glamorous projects. However, without building maintenance, your business has no place to execute your more fun and profitable initiatives. Be sure to allocate funds to your maintenance program based on needs expressed by your technicians, not just by the numbers that will look best to the corporate level. 

 

If you want to learn more about what makes MaintenX preventative programs more effective and more sustainable than other maintenance programs, contact us today!

Can Your Business Become A Net-Zero Energy Facility?

The future is electric, and it’s coming faster than any of us expected. You see it on the streets with the rise of electric vehicles, and soon most buildings will also reach zero emissions with wind, geothermal, and other renewable energy sources as their primary source of power. But, is this truly a possibility for your facility? The research says yes, and it just might be easier than you think. 

 

Benefits of Achieving Net-Zero Energy at Your Facility

 

  • Investing in energy-efficient solutions is affordable now, but as climate issues become more severe, they will become more expensive. Essentially, now is the cheapest and easiest time to get ahead of the curve and invest in achieving net-zero efficiency. 

 

  • There are substantial financial and government incentives to achieve net-zero energy including tax breaks, rebates, and programs to help you implement energy-efficient solutions now.

 

  • Becoming a net-zero business opens up PR opportunities as a leader in climate action and inspires both customers and employees to believe in your business. 

 

Building a net-zero facility is possible and will reap benefits in both the short and long term. Below are four different ways you can get closer to the goal of a net-zero energy facility:

 

Develop low-carbon products or services

Reducing the energy used in manufacturing and selling your products and services is the easiest way for you and consumers to benefit from green initiatives. Even something as simple as changing your packaging to reduce energy consumption can greatly benefit your business. 

 

Purchasing carbon offsets

In some areas of the country, it can be difficult to gain access to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy. If this is the case for your facility, you can instead purchase carbon offsets. These programs allow you to invest in clean energy projects across the country instead of directly purchasing power from these entities. Buildings as large as the Empire State Building are using this approach to make massive impacts on carbon emissions in the U.S., while also gaining significant PR opportunities. 

 

Invest in electric vehicles

Does your business use personal vehicles for operations or employee transportation? If so, it may be worth investing in an electric vehicle for commercial use. These vehicles will increase operational efficiency and can directly impact your carbon offsets. 

 

Investing in smart equipment for your facility.

Commercial building energy use is the single greatest contributor of carbon emissions in the U.S. Much of this energy usage comes from traditional HVAC, lighting, and electrical systems that require a great amount of power in order to operate. As the facility owner or manager, you can make an incredible contribution to achieving net-zero energy usage simply by switching to energy-efficient options. Energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems can dramatically decrease your energy usage, which can also decrease your power bills and make more room in the budget for investing in other low-carbon solutions for your business.

 

If you’re interested in making the switch to energy efficiency at your facility. Contact MaintenX today! We are your trusted experts in energy-efficient HVAC, lighting, roofing, plumbing, and electrical systems.  

Five Mistakes of Hiring Maintenance Staff

Choosing a maintenance staff is difficult for many hiring managers. For those without maintenance experience, it can be difficult to determine who has the technical skill versus who simply puts on a good interview. For those who are in maintenance, however, it can be difficult to know what to look for outside of technical ability and experience in order to make a good fit for the company as a whole. 

 

Below are five mistakes people often make when hiring maintenance technicians, as well as how to fix them:

 

Not asking the maintenance team to provide input. 

If you’re not part of the maintenance department yourself, ask other members of the maintenance crew for input. They can help guide you to choosing someone with the technical knowledge needed for the job, while you determine who fits within your company culture best. 

 

Not setting up expectations. 

Many hiring managers go into interviews without much preparation. They believe they’ll “know the right candidate when they meet them,” but this can lead to problems later on. It’s much easier to hire someone than to fire them, which means that the selection process is the most crucial part of developing the right maintenance staffing. Prepare a list of qualities — both hard and soft skills as well as personality strengths — that can help you narrow down your choice. 

 

Not choosing the right questions. 

Choosing the right members of your team is about more than technical proficiency. You need someone who is motivated, focused on career development, and can make your team stronger. By understanding a candidate’s motivations for a career in maintenance work, you can determine whether they’re someone who will make your team better or stay the same. 

 

Choosing candidates you like, even if they’re not the best. 

It’s a common temptation to hire people we get along with instead of those who show the best qualifications. Sometimes this is a wise move — maintenance work is a collaborative effort, and someone who doesn’t get along with people can be troublesome even if they have the technical skills. However, it is easy to be biased toward someone because they have similar interests or put on the charm for the interview. To reduce this risk, we recommend using multiple interviews with several hiring managers to ensure the person is well-regarded by several members of the team. 

 

Hiring too early. 

Hiring is a tedious process. Oftentimes we’d like to hire the first person who seems qualified, but this can mean you’re passing up on incredible talent based on the order of an application. Take your time when hiring, even if it means running a bit short-staffed for a few weeks. You’ll be glad you did when you’ve chosen a person who adds incredible value to your team. 

 

Want to take the guesswork out of hiring a maintenance staff? Talk to MaintenX about our preventative and emergency maintenance services! We offer an outsourced solution for both routine maintenance as well as reactive repairs. It’s the best of both worlds!

Preparing Your Facility for Holiday Closures

As the holiday season rolls around, you may be planning for some facility closures in the near future. Whether you are planning a day or two of closures or have weeks marked off the calendar to get maintenance done, there are several things you need to remember before closing the office. Below are four steps you should take in the weeks leading up to your office closure to ensure a smooth transition into and out of the holidays: 

 

Communicate with stakeholders

Your customers, vendors, employees, and other stakeholders need to know well in advance about your plan to close, even if it is only for a few days. Employees should be notified first via email or office calendar so they can plan for vacation time. Then, be sure to connect with customers and vendors to ensure they know to not expect communication during the closure. You should also communicate with vendors of any recurring deliveries or make arrangements with the post office to ensure no mail is delivered to the office while it is closed. 

 

Leave a message

Be sure to record an automated phone message that explains the closure and gives a start date and a reopening date. This is crucial if you typically operate phones in-house, but should also be used if you work with a remote front desk service. You should also instruct employees to schedule “out of office” emails before their last day. 

 

Reduce energy usage

One of the most important things you can do is to turn off unnecessary appliances during the holiday closure. This includes lamps, personal computers, printers, and other equipment that can easily be turned off at the switch. Be sure to back up your computer systems before doing this, however, as you don’t want to come back to a chaotic office if data is lost. 

 

Use your time wisely

Planned factory shutdowns, also called “factory fortnights” in manufacturing, are becoming more common as an opportunity to enhance facility equipment and perform preventative maintenance on major equipment. If your facility shutdown is planned for an extended period of time (such as for a week at Thanksgiving instead of for just one day) you can schedule preventative maintenance services with MaintenX to make the most of your time. 

 

MaintenX can help you make the most of your holiday season. Contact us today about scheduling preventative maintenance services during your holiday break so you can come back to a cleaner, more efficient office space. 

What Makes A Facility Manager a Leader?

As a facility manager, you may sometimes feel more like a taskmaster than a leader. You are faced with a revolving door of to-do’s and rarely a moment to reorient the big picture. After all, “first things first” is the common mantra when it comes to management. But, as a facility manager you are ultimately in charge of the direction of your maintenance programs. You have the capability to change and become a true leader within your facility with a little help.

 

Leadership is fundamentally about improving your facility from within. There are two ways in which leaders achieve this goal, both of which are effective for facility managers: 

 

The empowerment-driven approach. 

A substantial number of highly effective leaders get to their positions because they are exceptional resources for the rest of their teams. Rather than directing and micromanaging, these leaders empower their teams to make decisions based on a clear objective and ample support given by the leadership. This takes the burden of being taskmaster off your shoulders, as your team can better solve problems on their own and take direction on projects you assign. 

 

The mission-driven approach. 

This is the more difficult approach to leadership because it requires you to not only come up with a mission and vision for your facility but also be the driving force behind that mission. The mission-driven approach is a lead-by-example approach and is more hands-on than an empowerment-driven approach. However, by becoming more involved at the hands-on level and exemplifying the values of your department, you can unite your maintenance team under a common goal. 

 

Leaders can use these two styles under different circumstances to inspire and empower their maintenance teams. This is the approach we take at MaintenX with our immense subcontractor network, and with it, we are able to achieve a higher level of service and enthusiasm with every member of our team. 

 

To learn more about effective facility management for businesses of all sizes, visit our resource center

Attention to Detail Is The Difference Between Effective and Exceptional Facility Maintenance

In today’s modern workforce, speed is crucial. The technological world is moving faster than any of us imagined, and as maintenance technicians, we have to keep up as best we can with our clients’ fast-paced business environment. However, this emphasis on efficiency can pressure maintenance workers into doing less-than a perfect job in order to meet upper management’s expectations. 

 

If your maintenance department seems to be stagnating, ask yourself, “Am I pushing for quality work or faster service?” The attention to detail that a highly skilled technician can perform is incredibly valuable, but only if you encourage it over pushing service ahead of schedule. The extra time they take to diagnose or to perform preventative maintenance while onsite can save you thousands of dollars in emergency maintenance repair. Isn’t that more important than shaving off a few minutes or hours of labor time?

 

In maintenance, “good enough” is rarely what you want. Any technician out of their apprenticeship or technical school can do a “good enough” job in order to fix your plumbing leak or repair a blown fuse. However, what you pay for at MaintenX is the years of time and dedication to the job that develops an artisan-level of skill. This expertise not only helps you get the job done but allows your maintenance technician to identify root causes and prevent rework. Attention to detail is what separates efficiency from exceptional standards. 

 

One of the problems is how we measure performance. Wrench time studies are critical to improving performance where a lack of knowledge or skill is slowing down service. However, oftentimes these studies don’t account for the additional time it takes for a skilled technician to fully diagnose and prevent future problems during the repair. When you’re working with your maintenance team, be sure to conduct performance reviews beyond wrench time and partner your most experienced artisan technicians with new hires to show them that skill does indeed improve efficiency. 

 

Your maintenance team is capable of incredible work if you empower them to work beyond their most “efficient” capabilities. When attention to detail is a top priority, your business will thrive. 

 

Ask your MaintenX technician about how our preventative maintenance strategies help to improve facility performance long-term or visit our resource center for more information.

Are You An Inspired Leader As Facility Manager?

Facility management is not often considered a glamorous or highly influential field. To your tenants, the facility management is the people you call when there’s a plumbing leak or when you want to schedule landscaping services. However, your job is much more than that. You are the support system that keeps the infrastructure alive. You are the leaders who ensure that the business community can thrive and that your tenants can continue to do what they do best. 

 

This job requires both management finesse and leadership potential. But what exactly makes a good maintenance team lead or facility manager? According to Harvard Business Review, these four traits make a leader in any industry exceptional:

 

  • They set goals with their team, not for them
  • They develop the skills of subordinates to empower them to perform
  • They encourage collaboration in the workplace
  • They support innovation 
  • They connect emotionally and empathetically with subordinates 
  • They communicate their vision clearly and practice communication often 
  • They act as role models rather than bosses

 

You may wonder, “How am I supposed to inspire and encourage innovation as a maintenance manager? Isn’t the way we’ve always done things good enough?” 

 

It may be, but there is always room to grow in your position as a leader. While you may not make sweeping changes in the maintenance industry as a whole, by empowering individual technicians to exercise creativity in the workplace and inviting them to share input on your goals and procedures, you create a more cohesive maintenance team. Technicians who are challenged and rewarded for their creativity (and not just their obedience) are those who will perform above expectations. 

 

These leadership traits can be practiced in any position or industry, and they can be cultivated in technicians and new hires as well as within the management. By empowering your staff to make decisions and come up with novel solutions, they grow your maintenance program for you. 

 

MaintenX encourages all facility leaders to embody these principles in their daily work lives. The stronger the maintenance department, the stronger the building and the business within it can become. 

Are You In The Clear for Hurricane Season?

2021 has already had its share of significant hurricanes and tropical storms. Hurricane Ida wiped out much of New Orleans and surrounding areas, and there are others brewing in the Gulf, ready to make a path toward the mainland. Many MaintenX clients are calling to ask, “When will we be in the clear for hurricane season? And how do I prepare to minimize risk for my facility?”

 

What You Need to Know About The Hurricane Season

The 2021 hurricane season has been scary for many of us, and we won’t be in the clear for several months. However, there are ways to prepare to ensure your facility is less susceptible to damage and can open more quickly after a storm. 

 

  • Hurricane season isn’t over until November. While hurricanes are most active in late summer and early fall, you can expect them until November 30th every year. This means that you still need to be prepared for evacuations and emergency maintenance well into 2021. Don’t neglect your preventative care now, because we still have several months of stormy weather ahead. 

 

  • Expect a more active season. Most reports cite that 2021 will have above-normal hurricane activity in both the Atlantic and Pacific coastal regions.  This high activity is likely to continue into the late fall, so it’s best to review your hurricane preparation plan and ensure it is up-to-date before the end of the month. 
  • It’s important to secure any outdoor equipment before a storm. When preparing for a hurricane, the biggest danger is unsecured equipment and inventory outside. If you have an extensive outdoor showroom, equipment, or simply landscaping that includes furnishings, you need to secure these items indoors. This prevents them from flying around and damaging the interior or exterior of your building while hurricane-force winds are present. 

 

  • Don’t skimp on roofing maintenance services this time of year. Flying debris doesn’t just affect windows and landscaping during a hurricane. It most often damages or collapses roofing, especially if your property has trees surrounding it. Be diligent in your roofing maintenance this fall to prevent dead tree limbs or weak spots in your roofing from causing real damage to your facility. 

 

  • Make sure your employees have the resources to evacuate. Your building is important to protect, but your employees are even more important. Offer as many resources as possible — from transportation options to time off in advance — in order to help them evacuate before a major storm. As soon as an evacuation notice is in effect, you need to communicate your plan and put evacuations into effect for your staff. 

 

Hurricane season is scary, but preparation goes a long way toward protecting your assets and staff. To learn more about hurricane damage prevention, contact your local MaintenX team today.